Traitor Angels by Anne Blankman
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publishing Date: May 3
Genre: young adult, historical fiction, adventure
The daughter of notorious poet John Milton, Elizabeth has never known her place in this shifting world—except by her father’s side. By day she helps transcribe his latest masterpiece, the epic poem Paradise Lost, and by night she learns languages and sword fighting. Although she does not dare object, she suspects that he’s training her for a mission whose purpose she cannot fathom…until the king’s men arrive at her family’s country home to arrest her father.
Determined to save him, Elizabeth follows his one cryptic clue and journeys to Oxford, accompanied by her father’s mysterious young houseguest, Antonio Vivani, an Italian scientist who surprises her at every turn. Funny, brilliant, and passionate, Antonio seems just as determined to protect her father as she is—but can she trust him?
When the two discover that Milton has planted an explosive secret in the half-finished Paradise Lost—a secret the king and his aristocratic supporters are desperate to conceal—Elizabeth is faced with a devastating choice: cling to the shelter of her old life or risk cracking the code, unleashing a secret that could save her father…and tear apart the very fabric of society.
It’s 1666: six years since King Charles II returned from exile and reclaimed the throne, and a year with very little (if any) rain for England. John Milton is an exiled regicide, living as quietly as possible in a small country home outside London. Elizabeth is aware she’s had an unusual upbringing, but everything comes to light when her father is arrested and he whispers a mysterious, poetic line in her ear. Using clues sprinkled throughout Paradise Lost, Elizabeth flees in the night with an Italian scientist to Oxford on horseback, and races against the clock to discover and safeguard her father’s secret. But when the clues trace back to London’s St Paul’s, and indeed the very heart of Charles II’s court, Elizabeth must make a bold decision before the entire city erupts in flames.
This is a book for nerds and bookworms and history buffs and adventure seekers. This is like Da Vinci Code meets Possession meets YA (heck, I’d even toss YA out the window — this is that lovely in-between of classic adult and engrossing YA, a pure crossover). A mission hidden within a great literary work. A mystery that could unravel all society holds dear.
It has everything. Galileo, astronomy, natural philosophy. John Milton, poetry, Paradise Lost. The Civil War, Oliver Cromwell, Charles I and II. Royalists and Puritans. Science and religion. Oxford, Bodleian, Whitehall, the Tower. The Great Fire of London.
Are you drooling?
While I could go on about Elizabeth’s character development, the delicate way Blankman handled fact and fiction, Antonio and Robert, the political turmoil of the era, the heart-pounding discoveries and captures — I won’t. You need to discover this for yourself. This book is dynamic and brilliant and quite possibly Blankman’s best yet.
I am astonished, and I want nothing more than to roam Oxford again and picnic by the river and revisit my studies on the English Civil War, with a copy of Milton by my side and Renaissance historians gushing about the Italian progress. When an author can make me miss academia at this level, I promise you the book they wrote is excellent. And Blankman’s is exactly that.
Thank you, Edelweiss, for providing this book from Balzer + Bray for review!